Dear Rebecca and the EWB Board,
EWB is an organization that claims to strive to learn from their mistakes. So I have to ask, what mistakes are you learning from in your continued response to Chelsey’s activism? How exactly have you learned from the #metoo and #aidtoo movements when you continue to replicate the victim blaming, white supremacist, patriarchal narratives that underlie the whole sector in which you claim to operate differently? While asserting EWB’s ‘fail forward’ rhetoric has shielded the organization from scrutiny for years, we are calling you out on EWB’s inability to actually abide by this purported value. Your timeline is a disgusting misrepresentation of facts, but one thing it illustrates quite well is that, while the organization was made aware of Chelsey’s sexual abuse in 2013, it wasn’t until January 2019 (as you claim) that the organization made any attempt to rectify the organizational power dynamics that caused this abuse. The organization was made aware of my own sexual assault in 2014 and between 2013 and 2016, there were at least 6 other volunteers who reported sexualized violence to EWB through the poorly managed Health and Wellness ‘Pulse Check’. I was personally present in a conversation with you Rebecca, as well as 2 members of the board, 3 staff, and many members in which several volunteers came forward with their stories of sexual abuse that point to grievous negligence on EWB’s part in protecting its volunteers. Many of us came forward with our experiences and offered our expertise, advice, and support in effecting change within the organization. I was placated with unfulfilled promises and excuses about staff turnover in the 3 years that I advocated for change within EWB. What you are labeling ‘learning from mistakes’ is easily exposed as an attempt to repair the reputational damage that was caused when, in an effort to effect systemic change after many years of many folks working within EWB to no avail, Chelsey made her story public.
You should not be confident that you have made every effort to right the harms caused by this organization. You should not regret that individual concerns were not acknowledged or addressed (as EWB has still failed to acknowledge my own assault that you Rebecca, as my friend, have known about since it happened). As we know, laws are crafted to protect institutions, and while you claim that legally your duty of care in Chelsey’s case may have been met, the fact that EWB knew about and failed to respond to Chelsey’s situation in 2013 and my subsequent assault in 2014 constitutes gross negligence and is legally actionable.
If your desire to move forward ethically with this organization was genuine then we would see an acknowledgement of harm that includes the ways in which the organization plans to make reparations. Your response up to this point have not been apologies but a series of lies, excuses, and a misplacement of blame on the victims of this harm.
So tell me Rebecca, what exactly have you and EWB learned?